As I mentioned yesterday I’m getting a start on the next book of the Surreality series (2000 words so far) while I wait for copy-edits to come back on book one. Since this is part of a series, it has some dependence on events of the first book, though like most mystery stories I want you to be able to pick it up and read it without having read the first book.
Most ongoing series have some kind of reintroduction of the characters, establishing where they are now, what’s come before. Some authors choose to do this in a separate section, particularly long series with many recurring characters (like the Amelia Peabody mysteries). Others just try to drop in information through the narrative as its needed.
For the moment I’m taking this second approach, but its interesting trying to find a balance between info dump and leaving out relevant information. The rule of the moment is if it doesn’t play into the plot of the second book, don’t mention it. But there are a surprising amount of threads I’m picking up again, probably because I’m still coming fresh off the edit of the first book.
By book four or five I’d hope you’d know who the characters are, but mystery series have a long discovery period, refreshed with each new book or recommendation. Not everyone will go back to the beginning (though with digital books going to the beginning is a lot easier).
Do recaps bother you? Are they helpful even if you’ve read the previous books?
3 responses to “Recap”
I personally prefer recaps…Definitely.
I tend to like them too, especially in a series where I don’t read all of the books in one go. Most mystery series I dip in and out of. I love Elizabeth Peters, but after reading four in a row I needed a break (and they were all starting to feel the same).
I prefer no recaps, personally. Having a recap in a separate section is okay (LotR did this, actually), but doing recap within the story itself bugs me. Even if it’s subtle, I can usually tell when the author’s doing it, and it takes me out of the story a bit. If I’ve read the earlier books, then it feels like I’m being penalized for doing so, because this new story is diluted to accommodate those who haven’t.
If I’m going to jump into a new series midway through, I figure it’s my own responsibility to find summaries and catch myself up, or else just dive in and do the best I can.
But then, that’s just me. 🙂